Important Note: The information on this page is written for a very wide audience, but there are a few exceptions to some of the things I’m saying for certain core categories. You’ll find notes specific to each category at the bottom of the pageIf you’ve already read all of this and just need a document or link, head on over to the shorter version. We are not yet assessing the Distribution courses.

 

Thank you for teaching a course in the new Core! Everyone on the Core Committee recognizes and appreciates that teaching a Core course requires a little bit extra from instructors—from applying for a Core designation to designing a new course or re-tooling an existing course.  Because you’ve made it this far, it probably comes as no surprise to you that assessment of the new Core is going to require a bit extra from you.

.

“Okay, Todd, what do I need to do?”

You need to select an assignment (or multiple assignments) from your course that you can evaluate to see how well students did in meeting the learning goals for your core category. Once you’ve selected your assignment(s) you’ll need to fill out rubrics for each student’s work and submit the rubric scores to the Assessment Office along with electronic copies of the assignment and the student work.

 

“That doesn’t sound too terrible, but I have a lot of questions.”

Sure, go ahead.

 

 “What are the learning goals for the different categories of Core classes?”

Just click on the link below to get a convenient summary of the learning goals for your category:

 

“Thanks! What assignment or assignments do I choose?”

Each learning goal should be measured by at least one assignment in the course. It’s best to choose an assignment that comes after students have had a chance to do the learning, and, since we want them to do their best work, it should be probably be emphasized (either through your drawing attention to it or making it worth a substantial portion of their grade).  Other institutions’s experiences suggest that students do better on assignments that seem worth spending time on.  If you can measure multiple goals via the same assignment, that’s even better: setting fewer tasks for students allows them to focus their attention and energy.  You may have heard in workshops or seen in some of the Core materials reference to a “Signature Assignment”?  That’s what we are talking about here: an assignment or a small set of assignments that allows for authentic assessment of multiple learning goals!

 

“Didn’t I already list assignments on my core application?”

Probably so!  In that case, this step is already done!

 

“Hmm… Do I have to use the assignments I mentioned on my application?”

No. We understand that assignments may need to change between application and implementation.  The only rule is that each of the learning goals must be measured by one assignment in the course. (Keep in mind that one assignment can measure more than one goal; in fact, in some cases, one assignment can measure all of the goals.) However, please consult the director of your core category early in the semester if you plan to depart significantly from the assignments listed in your application–particularly if those changes involve replacing or omitting major assignments

 

“Now, what’s this about rubrics?”

Right.  Those are available at these links:

 

“So, wait. Are you telling me how to grade their work?!?”

Absolutely not. It is completely up to you to decide how to grade student work in your class.  It is your class after all.  Notice that the version of the rubrics above have no points or letter grades assigned to them.  While you are grading (or after—whichever works for you), you can also fill out the rubric.  I need those scores—not the grade.  We’ve tried to keep the rubrics as simple as possible because we recognize the potential additional burden, especially for large classes.

 

“Why do you need the students’ work, anyway?”

We need the student work so that members of the various sub-committees of the core can provide an independent assessment of student learning.

 

“So how am I supposed to get the data and student work to you?”

The easiest way (highly recommended by the Core Committee) is to use Canvas.

 

“But what if I don’t want to use Canvas?”

That’s fine. In the end, it’s your choice.  I promise Canvas is easier, but I’m not going to make you use it.

 

“OK, so what do I have to do if I don’t use Canvas?”

If you don’t use Canvas, there are two things you have to do:

First, you’ll need to scan the student’s work for the assignment(s) you chose and either send the files to me (as .pdf files, please) or share them with me via Dropbox or Google Drive. Please let me know what course and section the papers are from, and please send a description of the assignment, preferably the instructions the students received.

Second, you’ll need to create a spreadsheet to hold the rubric scores for every student in your class for each assignment.  The instructions are here.

 

“Well, maybe I’ll give Canvas a try. I’ve not really used it before and I’m only going to use it for this assessment stuff, ok?”

Great!  There are only a few basic steps to follow.  (Each of the basic steps links to a short document explaining what to do in detail with screenshots.)

 

“Anything else I need to know about the students submitting the work?”

Actually, yes.  The grading app inside of Canvas (SpreedGrader) cannot display files from the Office equivalents that come native to Macs (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), which can make grading and assessment difficult.  You may want to ask Mac-using students to “Save As…” into a version that will work, either the Office versions (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx), plain text, or .pdf. (They are probably used to this request, honestly).

 

“Hey, I need a rubric that isn’t in here.”

Well, you can ask me to build it for you, or you can follow the just-barely-more-complicated steps.

 

“I’ve used Canvas before, and I actually use it quite a bit. Will those same instructions work for me.”

Mostly.  There are a few situations where you’ll need to follow the just-barely-more-complicated steps:  you want to split one rubric onto multiple assignments (maybe the first two rows apply to one essay but the rest of it would be better used on a project), or you want to use your own rubric for grading.  Otherwise, the basic steps will work!

 

“So what is this just-barely-more-complicated process?”

 

“What if the student work I’m assessing can’t be uploaded to Canvas?”

You can still use Canvas to provide rubric scores if you want. If the assignment is done by hand or in some software external to Canvas, send me copies of the work as if you weren’t using Canvas.  If the student’s “work” is ephemeral—a performance, say, or class participation over the course of the semester, I’d be glad to get a recording or work with you to determine the best means of documentation.  If nothing else works, then we’ll do without the student work.

 

 “What are the deadlines?”

For those following the basic steps, it’s best to have everything set up in Canvas before the assignment is due, but as long as you get it done enough time before the end of the semester that students have time to upload, you’ll be OK.

For those following the just-barely-more-complicated steps, you need to have everything set up in Canvas before you start grading using your own rubric.

You should have the rubric scores completed and saved by no more than one week after grades are due for the semester in question.

 

“What happens with all of this information (and the student work) after my class is over?”

In most cases, each semester, I’ll be providing the department or core sub-committee with some of the student work from the courses taught during the semester before, which I will download from Canvas using its Outcomes system, and they will independently complete the rubric on the material.  Then at the end of the spring semester each year, they will review all of the instructor-provided scores and the sub-committee/department scores from the year before, looking for ways to improve student learning and the operation of the Core itself.  Once the entire Core Committee has reviewed their findings, they will be made public and passed along to you along with any suggestions about improving student learning and Core operations.

Oh, and also, instructors will be invited to participate in the sub-committees’ work and in the assessment meetings.  Keep in mind, it’s an invitation: you are neither required nor expected to attend.  Just to repeat: there is no expectation or obligation to participate beyond submitting your scores and student work.

 

“That seems like a lot of work.”

It will be.  One way we are simplifying is having the sub-committees focus on a few learning goals each year, moving through them until all have been reviewed in a four-year cycle.  We want instructors to provide scores and work for every learning goal each semester, but the sub-committees will be focusing their work by following this schedule.

 

“I’m having trouble getting something to work.”

Call or email me.  I’ll help you get it done.  That’s why I’m here.

 

THE NOTES